Mike Kearns warns of the dangers of splashing out on glory as St Neots Town’s poor run continues
ST Neots Town chairman Mike Kearns felt moved to write an open letter to the fans on the club’s website last week, following a run of results that saw the Iain Parr’s team drop from second to sixth in the Premier Division of the Southern League.
What followed on Saturday was another disappointing result, a 2-2 draw at Chippenham Town, where striker Ben Mackey was sent off seconds after scoring a late equaliser from the penalty spot. The point did mean St Neots climbed back into the play off places in fifth however.
In his statement, the chairman and owner wrote: “We work to a financial budget on how much we can afford to pay our squad of players – and with the recent addition of Adrian Sear, we have now exceeded that budget.
“But to help solve the current situation we will also add a couple of more players to the squad to give more competition for places.
“So the budget goes sky high yet the attendance figures are way down on last season. Our average last season was 430, so maybe 550 would be a fair figure to budget for this season. We are a mile away from last season’s average. Why?”
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“Do we go for glory and buy success, have serious debt to make a few happy for a couple more seasons, then the big bang and we drop like a stone?
“Have we seen that before? Of course we have, well it’s not going to happen to this club I can assure you of that.”
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Kearns is right, of course. Just look at Rushden & Diamonds, Kettering Town, Histon... Throwing money at a football club with a limited fanbase is a dangerous game to play.
But there can be little doubt that the ambitious chairman is disappointed by the recent run. The 2-2 at Chippenham was only the third point the club has picked up since they beat Bideford 5-3 on November 10, over a month ago.
Perhaps the Saints deserved more than the single point in Wiltshire. Parr mades changes and started with a back three rather than a back four, bringing in Mawefe Nkinga and relegating Jon-Paul Duncliffe to thesubstitutes’ bench. In goal he also handed a debut to Jack Giddens who was preferred to Michael Duggan following last week’s horror show.
Lee Phillips put Chippenham 1-0 up on six minutes, with Giddens getting his hand to the header but unable to keep it out.
Jordan Gent, Mackey and Stefan Moore all had chances in the first half but at half time the Saints were still behind.
Dan Jacob was replaced by Ade Yusuff for the second half and the lively winger pepped up the Saints with Jay Davies having a shot saved before his corner was met by the head of Gent who scored to make it 1-1.
At this point it looked like St Neots might go on to win the game, but nine minutes from time Luke Ballinger scored with a wonder strike.
With just two minutes remaining, Mackey was tripped in the box and scored from the spot. But there were ugly scenes in the back of the net as the striker tried to retrieve the ball quickly. Both he and Chippenham’s Alex Kite were sent off.
On Saturday, St Neots are at home to Chesham United, with their Boxing Day game a mouth-watering derby at Bedford Town.
However, after Davies and Moore were booked at Chippeneham, they and Mackey will be suspended for the club’s long trip to Weymouth on December 29.
St Neots: Jack Giddens, Mawefe Nkinga, Ed Adjei, Adrian Sear, Jordan Gent, Gavin Hoyte, Lewis Hilliard, Jay Davies, Stefan Moore (Jon-Paul Duncliffe), Ben Mackey, Dan Jacob (Ade Yusuff).